The holidays are a time of gathering. But it’s also the time of excess and increased consumerism, as people buy gifts for the sake of buying a gift. We’ve all been there. Deciding on the perfect gift that someone won’t throw away or end up returning is hard enough, but gift-giving with the environmentally conscious person in your life can be pretty frustrating. 

Luckily, there are many gifts out there today that you can still give while also being eco-friendly. Many companies now create sustainably made, sourced, and packaged gifts that your loved ones will treasure for a long time. You don’t have to sacrifice sustainability this holiday season — or any season thereafter! 

Here are a few of our favorites this 2020 holiday season. 

1. Look into Compost Bins and Kits

If you or your eco-conscious loved one hasn’t hopped on the composting train, you should consider it! Not only is composting a big trend right now, but it’s also one of the most sustainable practices you can partake in even when it stops being trendy. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are many benefits to composting:1

  • It enriches the soil
  • It lowers your carbon footprint
  • It reduces methane emissions from landfills
  • It helps suppress plant diseases and pests
  • It reduces the need for chemical fertilizers

Choose from several of the options for compost bins and kits out there, and there are even companies out there offering curbside pickup of your compost and return it to you in the form of soil! Our local favorite right now is Happy Earth Compost, with plans starting at $15 a month. 

2. Gift Some Reusable Produce Bags

Reusable grocery bags are here to stay. Everyone has at least one reusable bag in their car or storage closet. As more and more companies phase out the single-use plastic grocery bags (which are not easily recyclable), businesses are creating branded reusable grocery and produce bags to save money and the planet. 

You’ll want to get produce bags with their weight listed on them. That way, the grocery store checker can subtract the weight of the bag so you only pay for what you buy. Don’t forget to check the type of fabric, too! Cotton, hemp, Tencel, and linen are considered the most sustainable materials. 

An assortment of green living items, including a reusable coffee mug, a reusable water bottle, metal straws, a glass jar, wooden utensils and baking ware.

3. Pick Up a Glass or Stainless Steel Water Bottle

On average, Americans annually purchase about 50 million plastic water bottles.2 A shocking statistic — but if just one person switched to a reusable water bottle, they could save around 150 single-use plastic water bottles each year. Now, imagine if everyone purchased one. Now THAT would make a dent in our impact on the planet. 

A reusable bottle is one of the easiest gifts to get that eco-conscious friend or family member in your life. 

A woman holding a garment on a rack

4. Consider Fair Trade–Certified™ Clothing

Fair Trade is a set of principles that require producers and manufacturers to promote sustainable wages and safe working conditions for farmers and workers — and we should support such practices.3 

Brands like REI, Patagonia, Madewell, and J. Crew all offer Fair Trade–Certified™ clothing, from jackets to t-shirts. Now, this isn’t the most common gift to get — and certainly not the easiest to obtain — but it’s a special something for your most beloved sustainable-minded savant. 

5. Purchase Metal or Reusable Straws

Some studies estimate that Americans use approximately 500 million straws per day. While we can’t verify those claims definitively, we do know that millions of straws are used and then disposed of each day around the world. 

We don’t need to show you the turtle video for you to realize the impact that straws — something seemingly so insignificant — can have on our planet. Metal and other kinds of reusable plastic straws are the way to go. 

6. Adopt an Animal (Symbolically)

Every kid at some point has always wanted a pet tiger, lion, or other wild species of animal. With organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and the National Wildlife Federation, you can support protecting the habitats of your favorite animals while also giving a great plushie any kid would enjoy. 

Both organizations use your donations to support vulnerable wildlife species and further their conservation work.

In short, it’s a super cute gift that does good for the planet and your kiddos. 

Source: Parks Project

7. Support the National Parks in Style

Consider getting your in-style teen or young adult a gift from the Parks Project. This sustainable brand partners with U.S. parks to donate proceeds of their fashions and home products. Their donations help further youth education, advocacy, programs, and habitat and wildlife restorations. 

8. Purchase Only Recycled Metal Jewelry

Mining for and processing the metal to create your earrings and necklaces presents clear environmental challenges:

  • It disturbs the natural landscape
  • It could contaminate the soil, water, and air
  • It poses a risk to public safety 

With recycled jewelry, companies use gold and silver already in circulation. There’s no extra mining, as they’re only reusing available materials to create something new. This concept is called a “closed loop” system, and it’s a pretty awesome way of doing business.

Our Final Tips for When Shopping

Other important tips to follow for eco-friendly shopping include: 

  • Shop cruelty-free
  • Avoid single-use plastics
  • If you can’t check if the packaging is recyclable
  • Avoid fast fashion
  • Skip cheaply made gifts
  • Avoid kitschy gifts no one will use

Finally, sustainable shopping doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of the gifts you give or spending more money to afford them. You’ve just got to be thoughtful with your shopping choices — the recipients of your gifts will thank you for it!

Sources:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home 
  2. https://www.earthday.org/fact-sheet-single-use-plastics/#_ftn5 
  3. https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/fair-trade-basics.html 

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